Friday, September 2, 2011

16,000 Pages

When the summer began, the Spouse and I issued a challenge to the Picket Fence Post kids: Set your own reading goal and if you reach it, you’ll get a (reasonable) reward of your choosing.

The Girl picked the ambitious goal of reading 10,000 pages. If my resident Rory Gilmore made it, she asked that she be taken to Legal Sea Foods to lunch by one of her parents. No brothers allowed, please.

The Eldest Boy -- who was busy “studying” for his fantasy football team draft and playing on his drum set throughout the summer – set a goal of 5,000 pages. His request if he achieved the goal: “Financial help” from The Spouse and I to purchase a particular cymbal for his drum set for which he’d been saving up.

As for The Youngest Boy, my resident reluctant reader -- with whom The Spouse and I are still reading aloud the Harry Potter series (we’re roughly mid-way through book six) -- he selected a somewhat more modest goal: 1,000 pages and asked to be taken to play laser tag if he reached it.

The Girl reached her goal weeks ago, no sweat. She's always reading, so I never worried she'd fall short. On Tuesday I paid up and we enjoyed a lively lunch together at Legal Sea Foods (wonderful lobster salad for me, grilled scallops for her, plus she got Boston creme pie for dessert). No brothers.

Things weren't as easy for The Eldest Boy who'd put off his reading. As the first day of school grew closer, he realized he was in danger of not making it to 5,000 pages. For the past week, he holed himself up in his room voraciously reading so he’d be eligible to get his reward. There was one night last week when I asked him if he wanted to watch an episode of The Mentalist with me – that’s “our” thing together – and he said he absolutely couldn’t which was surprising because he rarely passes up a chance to watch TV. “Mom, if I don’t keep reading I’ll never make it,” he said. But he did make it and with his reward, his birthday money and money he'd saved, he got his cymbal.

The Youngest Boy thought he’d achieved his 1,000 pages a few weeks ago, until The Spouse took a look at his reading list and told the kid he needed to recalculate as he hadn't quite made it yet. The 10-year-old hustled and reached his goal at the end of last week. Now he’s waiting for his laser tag (to which I'm hoping The Spouse takes him).

The reading incentive worked so well, that I'm thinking we should do another round of it, maybe every four months so the goals would seem reasonable. For the 10-year-old who’d rather play video games, the more we can get him to read, the better.

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